It becomes more interesting if you take the cowork model and apply it to other things. For example, shared kitchens. In 2008 there were 50 shared commercial kitchen facilities in the US. It allows food trucks, budding restauranteurs, home cooks, and others to share space and not be burdened with the fixed cost of building and operating a commercial grade kitchen. In 2013, there are 340.
It’s part of the whole ethos of the sharing economy. But it’s more than that. Coworking is a response to a lot of things. The nature of work has changed, and the world is much more uncertain. There are different stressors that impact people. Coworking and collaborating can solve some of those problems and alleviate that stress. Great cowork spaces have a built in support network.
By 2020, the estimates say 45% of the world wide workforce will be “contingent”. That means unattached to a corporation or company. The Gig Economy is here and it’s going to be here for a long time. Larger firms are outsourcing and hiring consultants to work on projects rather than bring them in house to work as employees. It’s cheaper, and more efficient.
What I find really interesting about this prediction is the effect of the destruction of the worker-company relationship will have on a whole host of things American workers have taken for granted for generations.
Like health insurance. Some guy who builds a kitchen and rents it out to people who want to cook in it isn’t likely to provide to his renters health insurance. Or pension benefits. Now, in a libertarian world, the renters would band together and make their own arrangements – as self-employed workers do today.
But the US government is trying to take over the health care market, and is rumored to be eying the pension market as well. So what will the country look like when most people are “self-employed,” and rent their work spaces along with their living spaces, while Uncle Sugar takes care of all the financial details of living, retiring, and dying?
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